Jamie’s American Road Trip: New York – Channel 4: Jamie Oliver – Big Love In The Big Apple

At last, the real Jamie Oliver is back! After hanging in ‘da hood in week one, and playing cowboy in week two, the Naked Chef returns to what he does best – cook. He’s not trying to play out a childhood fantasy or live the life he’s seen on TV; he meets, he greets, he investigates new tastes and, most importantly, whips up some inspiring dishes.

And here in New York there’s finally a real sense of cultures coming together, adding twists to dishes brought from the old country, and coming up with proper American cooking. Real food that real Americans eat, just not from some ubiquitous chain restaurant.

Nothing Posh Except The Nosh

The Big Apple also provides genuinely new dining experiences, as opposed to Manhattan’s latest “in” restaurant, where who you’re seen with is more important than the food. After a quick taste of Egyptian fare, complete with a visit to a “live” butcher, Jamie heads to an underground restaurant, literally run from somebody’s house and surrounded by barbed wire.

This is nobody’s idea of a Michelin-starred eaterie, but the friendly atmosphere and home cooking leave a big impression on Jamie. “The last restaurant I fitted out cost a million quid – you know, nice bogs, nice floorboards, nice window, nice etching … this looks like Louisiana after a hurricane. The place is not smart, but all the value is on the plate.”

All Hail The Chicken And Rice Man

And where there are immigrants, unfortunately, there is also poverty. Another bit of New York most definitely not on the tourist trail is Jackson Heights, home to dozens of illegal Columbian immigrants, many of whom are homeless. Luckily help is at hand in the form of George, himself a former “illegal”, who makes the half hour drive each day to cook for those on the streets. He does it all for free, simply because he’s been there himself and wants to do what he can to help

More “guerrilla” dining is also explored in the form of a supper club, where the host advertises a time and date online, and complete strangers come to their home armed with cash and a bottle. This is of course right up Jamie’s street, and he wastes no time in setting up his own evening, complete with the latest Peruvian, Egyptian and Colombian dishes he has picked up. All proceeds from the evening naturally go to George.

This is precisely what Jamie should have been doing all along – going to a place familiar to many Brits, but showing a different side not featured in any holiday brochure. He’s not out to impress anyone, or feel sorry for the underprivileged, just creating new delicacies and helping out a bit along the way. Fingers crossed for week four!


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